Imagine, that you are at home teaching your children when the front door of your house is forcefully opened and in walks a police officer and a social services worker. Without a court warrant, without establishing probable cause, they gain access to your home, demand to interview your children away from you (which may or may not involve visually inspecting your children in a state of undress), and demand access to your curriculum, record plans, and grade book. And you have no legal right to resist.
Does that sound farfetched?
If you live in the state of Indiana, it shouldn’t. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled this week “that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” Writing for the majority in the decision, Justice Steven Davis wrote, “We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.” In short, the police may enter an Indiana citizen’s home unlawfully, and that citizen has no right to resist. The court justified their decision by writing, “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.” They continued, “…we find it unwise to allow a homeowner to adjudge the legality of police conduct in the heat of the moment. As we decline to recognize a right to resist unlawful police entry into a home, we decline to recognize a right to batter a police officer as a part of that resistance.” In essence, they gave the police a master key into Indiana homes.
The decision stems from a case where Fort Wayne, Indiana, police officers entered a home without knocking in order to serve a search warrant to two men with prior felony convictions. The police believed that the men were armed, and that a no-knock entry was justified out of concerns for officer safety. The Indiana Supreme Court decision went far beyond supporting a no-knock entry for police safety. They gave police carte blanche to enter homes, telling homeowners that their only course of action is civil litigation.
It will not take long before Indiana social services will team up with local police to gain entry into a home in order to investigate homeschoolers. The HSLDA Court Report is filled with stories about social service workers across the country lying, threatening, bullying, and intimidating homeschooling families in order to gain entry into their homes, more often than not based on non-credible concerns that children are being physically or emotionally abused and/or educationally neglected. The HSLDA regularly defends homeschooling families against such intrusions. Social workers are known to threaten families with the removal of their children, while demanding the opportunity to interview children alone, away from their parents. Sometimes these interviews include strip searches, ostensibly to look for signs of physical abuse. Anything children say during these interviews can be and have been used against parents in court.
Indiana homeschoolers have reason to be concerned.
The court ignores the damage done when police unlawfully enter homes. There is a loss of trust and respect from citizens towards law enforcement and government, which ultimately results in a loss of cooperation between citizens and law enforcement. No amount of money can repair the damage done when citizens no longer feel safe and secure in their homes. No monetary settlement can repair the damage done to our children when they are raised in world where their government can enter their homes and remove them from their families without probable cause, even if they are ultimately returned to their parents.
I would like to believe that the Indiana Supreme Court decision will be overruled by the US Supreme Court, but I would never have believed that any US court would rule as the Indiana justices ruled, since the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution clearly states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” We will have to wait and watch carefully.
This decision is a dangerous precedent.